Highlights: Neal Cassidy Drops Dead, Staircase At The University, Mountjoy, Oboe Concerto, Art Hounds
Let’s get it straight: World Peace Is None Of Your Business is a ridiculous title. It’s so ridiculous it verges on embarrassing. However, when Morrissey does it, it’s all right.
This is an album you will have to come round to. It isn’t as immediate as the first side of Years Of Refusal (which was not as bad as they tell you) and some of these songs might not amount to much after a couple of listens. Initially, it seems vaguely pompous, melodically meandering, unreasonably diverse and occasionally shallow (I still can’t come to terms with the lyrics of “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet”).
But do hang on.
A cursory listen won’t do. To appreciate this album, you would have to invest in it. Money, time, attention – something the sneering hordes of Morrissey atheists/agnostics simply won’t do. Eventually, the depth of the songwriting as well as Morrissey’s unmistakable (and, yes, rather annoying) charisma will start bulging through grey, dull cobblestone. Because these songs are good. All eighteen (18) of them. Maybe not Vauxhall & I kind of good, but very few things are.
And I do mean eighteen. Twelve album songs plus six bonus tracks that are at least as good as the actual thing. In fact, I view them as a legitimate third side. The mad-appealing “Art Hounds”, for instance, is an all-out Morrissey classic. But there’s at least something about each and every one of seventeen songs proceeding it that keeps me tuned in. World Peace… is a vast and expansive work, with the powerful guitar punches of “Neal Cassidy Drops Dead” working side by side with an acoustic sleeping beauty like “Smiler With A Knife”. Plus, the fast and funny “Staircase At The University” (“if you don’t get three A’s…” – Morrissey, remember, has never been above catchy), the clever accordion-driven “The Bullfighter Dies”, the mysterious “Kick The Bride Down The Aisle”. The lengthy “I’m Not A Man” feels like a statement and a centrepiece; its dramatic subtleties are overwhelming. I’m also impressed with the charm of “Oboe Concerto” that exposes the full extent of Morrissey’s romantic wit.
Has to be said: I really do not give a fuck about Morrissey’s politics. Whoever he wants to kill in a microwave oven. Let him sing about anything he wants though. It will always make for an exciting listen. World Peace… is a terribly self-indulgent album and I’m afraid I can live with that. I have really talked myself into a nine here.